Source of refuge, and separation
The P-3 program aims to reunify families separated after resettlement, which has been considered a long-standing priority in U.S. refugee admission. Since 2003, the program has admitted roughly 36,000 relatives of African refugees, plus about 400 people from other countries, according to the State Department. The majority were from Somalia, Ethiopia and Liberia.
Admissions through the program were suspended last spring for applicants from a handful of East African countries after a pilot DNA testing program in Kenya found high rates of fraud.
A joint investigation by Homeland Security Department and State Department officials involving 500 P-3 cases found that 87 percent of applicants had either lied about a biological relative or failed to show up for an interview as word of DNA testing spread.
Refugees are given high-priority access to legal residency in the United States, so much so that they are required by law to apply for Legal Permanent Residency after one year. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that the U.S. government also provides refugees the opportunity for reunion with their family members.
In brief, a pilot program was run on the U.S. government's P-3 program, which reunites refugees who have settled in the United States with their relatives who remain abroad. The P-3 program was shut down this past October due to an unexpectedly high rate of fraud in African nations, detected through DNA testing.
The decision to suspend the program throughout the world may prove tragic, especially for refugees like Mayam Kromah, who has been waiting almost four years for her application to be processed. Despite following the rules of the application process and being more than willing to comply with additional security measures, it will be another indeterminate number of months before Mayam finds out if her father will be granted refugee status.
Additionally, I would argue that although DNA is certainly the best way to determine one’s biological relatives, it may not be the best way to determine the worthiness or priority of a reunification case. I hope that the pilot program and the consequent suspension of the P-3 program will continue to encourage honest applications, so that those individuals who have withstood years of separation from their loved ones may finally be reunited.